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Joint Oireachtas Committee

February 7, 2017

Today, Wednesday 8th February 2017, ECI is appearing before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs to deliver a presentation on the new Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS). Our delegation is Teresa Heeney, CEO, Frances Byrne, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Amy McArdle, Policy Officer and Valerie Gaynor, ECI Policy and Implementation panellist and Manager of Creative Kids in Walkinstown, Dublin.

ECI will reinforce our concerns that the cost model for ACS, as currently proposed, has been conceived on the misunderstanding that the current financial model operating in the ECE sector is working. This runs contrary to the findings of two recent studies into the cost of providing quality childcare, ECI’s Doing the Sums: The Real Cost of Providing Childcare and the report by South Dublin County Partnership Et al. Breaking Point: The challenge of securing sustainable Early Years Services to support children and families most at risk of poverty. Both Doing the Sums and Breaking Point are referenced in support of DCYA’s proposed cost model and are among the research that DCYA’s ‘hourly’ cost of childcare was based.

However, the cost model being used to calculate the targeted subsidies is based on the current, unacceptable status quo whereby the majority of the sector are breaking even at best and its highly professional workforce are low paid and increasingly employed on a part-time/38-week basis.  This does nothing to address professionalisation, the sustainability of services or the poor pay and conditions for staff, which has led to a staffing crisis whereby services cannot recruit or retain the staff needed to comply with the regulatory requirements for the sector.

Please read ECI’s full presentation to the Committee on Children and Youth Affairs here.

ECI is currently scrutinising the Heads of Bill and General Scheme for the ACS and the revised FAQs and looks forward to working with the Committee and the wider Oireachtas membership to ensure robust legislative scrutiny and to ensure that the scheme, when commenced, represents a move toward a childcare system in Ireland that can deliver: the best quality care and education for children in the most formative years of their development; viability and sustainability for both early childhood services and their staff; and access and affordability for parents to childcare facilities and services.

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